Linda Zlatkin

Jewish Tribune, June 19, 2012

Supporters renewed their commitment to Israel and the Jewish community recently at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s (CIJR’s) 24th anniversary gala. The 200 people who gathered at the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue in Westmount celebrated the great work CIJR does to strengthen public understanding of Israel as a progressive, democratic society in its difficult Middle Eastern context.

“I am proud to say that we have expanded into Toronto this year and that we’ve gotten certification like ours in the US too (American Institute for Jewish Research),” said Professor Frederick Krantz, the founder and director of Montreal-based CIJR. “We’re also connected to the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs and hope to celebrate our 25th anniversary with a major gala in Jerusalem next year.”

This is an amazing accomplishment given the fact that this unique, independent, non-profit, internationally-respected think tank has to raise all its own funds to survive.

“Our major goal is to bring to light to the public, the media, students on campuses and Jews and non-Jews alike unbiased up-to-date information on Israel,” said Krantz. “We have many publications including Dateline: Middle East (which guests got a copy of at the gala). There is also an important Student Israel-Advocacy Program, which comes to the rescue of students on university campuses exposed to anti-Israel agitation and propaganda.”

Guests were welcomed with cocktails, an introduction by Prof. Krantz and a message from incoming National Chairman Jack Kincler. Greetings from the state of Israel were conveyed by Joel Lion, consul general of Israel to Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations and a recently elected vice-president [of September’s General Assembly], gave a keynote address during the dinner.

“We need to stand up for the values we cherish and be proud of who we are and what we are,” said Prosor. “Respect is there, we simply have to keep pushing for it as much as we can. When I walk through the corridors of the United Nations, I walk through them tall and proud.

“When Israel initiated a resolution on agricultural technology, more than100 countries co-sponsored it. What’s more, Canada is on the front line defending the state of Israel. You can all be proud to be Canadians.”

There was a special address by award-winning British journalist and author Melanie Phillips whose latest book, The World Turned Upside Down, was available at the event.

“Truth and justice are at the very core of Jewish existence,” said Phillips. “Many British people think Israel stands for injustice, untruth and illegality. We have to show them the opposite is true in a more aggressive way. If we do so, we could change the nature of the hostility towards Israel. Our duty is to remain true to our tradition, no matter what the cost.”

Lilach and Smadar Brandes provided the guests with a musical performance throughout the evening. A dedication was given to Rabbi Ronnie Cahana of the Beth-El Synagogue who suffered a brain stem stroke. Romanian Holocaust Survivor, Baruch Cohen, 92, a courageous advocate of Israel and a critic of anti-semitism received the Lion of Judah Award (the symbol of the Israelite tribe of Judah in the book of Genesis).

Janice Arnold

Canadian Jewish News, June 20, 2012

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations deplored the continued abstention by Germany, the United Kingdom, France and other western countries from voting on anti-Israel resolutions that frequently come before the General Assembly. Only Israel, the United States, Canada and the Pacific island country of Palau have of late been voting against the condemnations of the Jewish state, Ron Prosor said June 12 at a Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) benefit dinner at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.

“The demonization and delegitimization of Israel is off the charts…repeated day in and day out,” said Prosor, who assumed the post last June after serving as ambassador to the United Kingdom and, before that, director-general of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Of the 193 UN member states, only 88 are democracies. Meanwhile, 56 are part of a coalition of Arab and Islamic countries that routinely bring forward these resolutions, he said, and they can get a majority easily with support from other non-democratic nations.

But what most worries Prosor is the insidious indifference to and even acceptance of anti-Israel “lies and half-lies” among democracies, including Britain, “once the cradle of western civilization.”

“In the past our enemies tried to defeat us on the battlefield, and this failed, then they tried economically, and this also did not work out,” he said. “Today, they are going for our soft underbelly, trying to take us away from the family of nations, turning Israel into a pariah state. They are trying to divide Israel from within and from the Jewish communities abroad.”

These falsehoods include that the idea that ending the Arab-Israeli conflict will solve all the problems in the Middle East, and that the Jewish settlements in the West Bank are a major obstacle to peace.

According to Prosor, the biggest hurdle is the Palestinians’ claim of the right of return to Israel proper. This is a concession no one in Israel will ever accept, he said, even those on the political left. “It would mean the destruction of the State of Israel,” he stated.… “The Palestinian leadership never speaks of two states for two peoples, just two states. Why? Because they do not acknowledge the nation state of the Jewish people.”

Proser described Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ address to the UN last September as “antisemitic and racist to the core. He spoke of the children of Muhammad and the children of Christ, but about the children of Abraham, not one word.”

The tactic of repetition has also worked for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Prosor continued. When Ahmadinejad vowed to eradicate Israel a couple of years ago, “the international community was shocked. Today, through repetition, he has made it seem inevitable…or, at least, debatable.”

Prosor is worried that the western world has been lulled into complacency about Iran’s nuclear intentions. But some of Iran’s Arab neighbours are afraid, notably Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, he said. Unofficially, Israel is making contact with these states to discuss their mutual concern over the Iranian threat, he said.

Prosor praised the steadfast support of the Canadian government for Israel. “Under [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper, Canada is on the frontline of defending the State of Israel, with dignity and holding to principles, and there is huge respect for that.…”

Barbara Kay

National Post, June 22, 2012

Alice Walker, best known as the author of the novel The Color Purple, is a long-time political activist, with a special—one might even say obsessional—fixation on Israel as the avatar of political evil.

Last year, Walker was a highly publicized presence in the failed flotilla expedition to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Undeterred by that flop, this year her strategy has taken a more artsy turn. She has announced that until Israel repents of its policy of “apartheid” treatment of the Palestinian people, she will not allow Yediot, an Israeli publisher, to translate her famous novel into Hebrew.

The world is full of celebrities who, having been rewarded for their talent in their chosen cultural or artistic milieu, presume they must be highly competent and credible in domains they are totally clueless about. Jane Fonda, who disgraced herself in Vietnam, and Shirley Maclaine, who waxed rhapsodic about life in Communist China, spring to mind.

But Alice Walker’s relentless self-promotion in the service of anti-Zionism is particularly irksome. She never stops looking for the hook that will bring the paparazzi running. And her attention-getting stunts always manage to garner the maximum of attention without her actually having to suffer for her cause. I mean, seriously, folks, forbidding a Hebrew translation of her book? Her Hebrew-only adult reading market is tiny: They represent a nugatory loss in revenues.…

Walker’s passion for the underdog reminds me of Charles Dickens’ ineffable creation, Mrs. Jellyby, in his novel, Bleak House. Mrs. Jellyby’s sentimental thoughts are always half a world away with the poor children in Africa, while her own dirty, neglected children must shift for themselves in her chaotic household.

The comparison is particularly apt because Walker has herself boasted that her anti-Zionist motivation springs from anguish over the sufferings of poor Palestinian children. At the time of the flotilla fiasco, she told CNN that all she wanted was to see “justice and respect” for Palestinian children: “One child must never be set above another.” And so, having adduced her love of children as her motivation for her activism, Walker has, as the lawyers say, “opened the door” to evidence of her own mothering practices.

In the light of her treatment of her own daughter, Walker’s kitschy Jellybesque hand-wringing over Palestinian children plumbs new depths in the word “hypocrisy.” Walker’s daughter Rebecca is now 42 years old. She has a four-year old son, a blessing in her life that, by Rebecca’s account in a 2008 article, Alice had up to then never seen. According to Rebecca, Alice did not acknowledge her grandson’s birth or come to her daughter’s side to commiserate when the baby had to be rushed into intensive care with breathing problems.

This great champion of Palestinian children, it seems, had no great love for her own child. Rebecca writes: “I came very low down in her priorities—after work, political integrity, self-fulfillment, friendships, spiritual life, fame and travel.” In fact Alice saw very little of Rebecca, leaving her with relatives for months on end while she globe-trotted and hobnobbed with others in her self-righteous cohort.… When Rebecca was 16, she found a poem her mother had written, comparing Rebecca’s birth to “various calamities” like early death and mental illness.…

It’s worth repeating Alice Walker’s words: “One child must not be set before another.” She should have added, “when it serves my ego needs and political ends.…”

A word to Yediot Publishing in Israel: You may want to think about translating Rebecca Walker’s book, Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, into Hebrew. I think it might be a bestseller, and would serve Alice Walker right if it were.

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Ynet News, May 28, 2012

A variety of major elements in today’s delegitimization of Israel by European agitators recall what Jews experienced in the late 1930s. To study this thoroughly would require a huge effort. Formulating a few key ideas about this, however, could easily come from reading a single book which covers that period.

One example is Duff Cooper’s autobiography, Old Men Forget. The author is a former British Conservative minister. He was First Lord of the Admiralty—a British title for the Minister of Marine—at the time of the Munich agreements. On 29 September 1938, England and France abandoned Czechoslovakia to Hitler by agreeing that it had to give up part of its territory to Germany. This Sudetenland was mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans and all the Czechoslovak fortifications were there. This led to the German occupation of the entire country six months later.

Shortly before Munich, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain spoke on the radio. Cooper writes that he had no words of sympathy for Czechoslovakia, which he was prepared to betray. “The only sympathy expressed was for Hitler, whose feelings about the Sudetens the PM said that he could well understand.”

Cooper often quoted from his diaries. On 22 May 1938, at the time of continuous vicious German verbal attacks on Czechoslovakia, he wrote about a cabinet meeting: “The general feeling seemed to be that great, brutal Czechoslovakia was bullying poor, peaceful little Germany.… It was decided to send off a telegram to tell the French to…urge the Czechs to make large concessions.”

In diluted form this resembles the European Union’s ongoing criticism of Israel and Europe’s tip-toeing around the “peaceful Arab world” where many thousands have been slaughtered by their own countrymen.

In September 1938, another cabinet member Viscount Hailsham, said to Cooper: “It all depends on whether we can trust Hitler.” Cooper asked, “Trust him for what? He has got everything he wants for the present and he has given no promises for the future.”

Can one trust Arab states or the Palestinians today? The great majority of Egyptians want to abolish the Camp David peace treaty in which their country got back Sinai without fighting. The Palestinian Authority glorifies murderers of Israeli civilians and names youth camps, streets and schools after them. Today we know that [the Oslo] agreement enabled the Palestinians to gradually mobilize large parts of the Muslim world against Israel.…

Since Oslo, we have had some Israeli governments emulate Chamberlain’s foolish position. They claimed that “if you do good, you do not need public diplomacy.” The current government does not adhere to that absurd maxim, but there is certainly vast room for improvement in the presentation of Israel’s case to the world.

(Manfred Gerstenfeld, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is author of 20 books, several dealing with anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism.)

Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2012

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Everyone knows who said this, and everyone thinks it’s true. But is it, really?

After last weekend I’ve begun to have my doubts. In Egypt, the ruling military junta reacted to the apparent victory of Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi by stripping the presidential office of its powers. That came just days after Egypt’s top court dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament, which had been freely elected only a few months ago.

How arbitrary. What an affront to the Egyptian people. Now let’s hope it works.

Then there’s Greece, which also had an election over the weekend. The Greeks are supposed to have made the “responsible” choice in the person of Antonis Samaras, the Amherst- and Harvard-educated leader of the center-right New Democracy party. Responsible in this case means trying to stay in the euro zone by again renegotiating the terms of a bailout that Greeks cannot possibly repay and will not likely honor.

Yet the more depressing fact about the election is that Mr. Samaras didn’t even get 30% of the vote. The rest was divided among the radical-left Syriza (27%), the socialist Pasok (12.3%), the anti-German Independent Greeks (7.5%), the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (7%), the center-left Democratic Left (6.2%) and, finally, the good old Communist Party (4.5%). In other words, the Greeks gave a solid 46% of their vote to parties that are evil, crazy or both, even while erring on the side of “sanity” with parties that are merely foolish and discredited.…

Should anyone be surprised that democracy is having such a hard time in the land of Pericles? Probably not—and not just because Greece is also the land of Alcibiades. Despite its storied past, modern Greek democracy, like much of modern European democracy, is of a post-liberal variety. Post-liberalism seeks to replace the classical liberalism of individual liberty, limited government, property rights and democratic sovereignty with a new liberalism that favors social rights, social goods, intrusive government and transnational law.

In practice, post-liberalism is a giant wealth redistribution scheme. It bankrupted Greece and will soon bankrupt the rest of Europe. What happens to bankrupt democracies? Think Weimar Germany, Perón’s Argentina, and, more recently, Yeltsin’s Russia.

Now take Egypt. There, instead of post-liberal democracy, you have the energetic stirrings of pre-liberal democracy.

What is pre-liberal democracy? It is democracy shorn of the values Westerners typically associate it with: free speech, religious liberty, social tolerance, equality between the sexes and so on. Not only in Egypt, but in Tunisia, Turkey and Gaza, popular majorities have made a democratic choice for parties that put faith before freedom and substituted the word of God for the rule of law.

Apologists for this sort of democracy argue that it still beats the alternatives, not just the coarse authoritarianism typified by Hosni Mubarak but also the progressive-autocratic model that used to prevail in Turkey. They also argue that democracy has a way of taming ideologically extreme political leaders by tethering them to the needs and wishes of the people, just as a talented cowboy will rope and halter an unruly horse.

But there’s a problem with this analogy: In pre-liberal societies, it is the people who are the horse and the leaders who do the roping, not the other way around. An Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood will respect democratic procedure only to the extent that it does not infringe on the Brotherhood’s overarching goals: “Restoring Islam in its all-encompassing conception; subjugating people to God; instituting the religion of God; the Islamization of life,” according to Khairat Al Shater, the Brotherhood’s de facto leader.

That’s the kind of democracy we can soon expect from Egypt unless the military somehow gets the upper hand politically. Don’t bet on it. If post-liberal democracy is unsustainable (“They always run out of other people’s money,” as Margaret Thatcher quipped), pre-liberal democracy is irresistible. The objections of an aged and ambivalent junta will not long stand in the way of millions of Egyptians demanding their right to choose unfreedom freely.

The good news is that Egyptians may have a wider conception of freedom in 30 years or so, about the same amount of time it took Khomeinism to lose the masses in Iran. In 30 years, too, the Greeks may have a better appreciation of the notion of responsibility, both personal and political. As for what remains of the liberal democratic world…[consider] another famous political maxim: “A republic—if you can keep it.”

Please note that CIJR will be closed Monday, June 25.
Isranet Briefing will resume Tuesday, June 26.